When everyone finally returns to the workplace, it will be different in a lot of ways – while some changes will easily identifiable, others will be far less obvious.
According to David Kessler, fear about the future, loss of connection, and the disruption of normal routines have led to feelings of collective grief. Workplace leaders have a chance to earn the trust of their employees by recognizing the challenging emotions employees are experiencing.
Besides keeping employees physically safe, managers must take into consideration the need for psychological safety. The management of stress and fear in the workplace must be a foremost focus. Recommendations that can be acted upon to help employees cope include:
Encourage Connection And Prioritize Physical Safety
The coronavirus pandemic will eventually subside, but before offices reopen, organizations need to take measures to keep employees safe. This could include taking proactive measures like returning to work in shifts, spacing desks further apart, and restricting the number of people able to gather in common areas and conference rooms.
While some of these changes may be situational or temporary, others could be permanent. However, Cristina Herrera, a change management professional, claims that social distancing does not mean we have to give up everything we have gained from a more collaborative workplace.
She states that the shift to a more shared environment of spaces come with tremendous benefits in terms of nurturing and fostering the mentality of the tribe that employees are a part of. She adds that her work desk is not somewhere she would like to spend all her time. She wants to build relationships while having opportunities for innovation. While the need to ensure that employees do not jump too drastically to the other side, managers do need to consider that people may return to the workplace with a lot of anxiety. It is important to make them feel secure and to offer them opportunities to take care of their own safety.
Lead With Vulnerability
Brené Brown, a renowned researcher, labels vulnerability as the birthplace of change, creativity, and innovation. In times of crisis, leaders deal with increased uncertainty, as well as, uncomfortable or unfamiliar decisions. It is time to let go of the outdated idea that management will have all the answers.
One author, Rex Miller, says that this is the time when leaders have to be transparent with employees. When leaders are more vulnerable about what they are experiencing, employees will feel more comfortable expressing their own concerns and fears.
Miller said people must share what is happening now and what they are going through. Leaders must invite other voices. When it comes to expressing reality, leaders must be the first ones to come out and share what it is really like for them.
Miller added that stress can be contagious. In fact, approximately 85% of employees report high-stress levels with 75% of employees labeling stress as their number one concern that impacts productivity.
While leaders admitting they are going through a difficult time can be constructive, they also need to manage their own stress to be better equipped to assist employees. A handful of steps that leaders can take to manage their own stress include:
- Reducing cognitive load by planning the next day the night before
- Performing the most mentally exhausting tasks during the time when they are most productive
- Working in 60-minute intervals with short breaks in between
- Taking time out for exercise every day
- Limiting sugar intake and eating a balanced diet
- Getting sufficient sleep
When learning new ways of doing things, stress can compound. Therefore, Miller advises maintaining a routine as much as possible.
Try Providing Additional Mental Health Services
A large majority of companies have expanded mental health benefits amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions discovered that 53% of employers are now providing extra programs.
New benefits range from offering employees access to mindfulness apps to online counseling sessions at no cost. Employers are also offering greater scheduling and additional leave flexibility, along with expanded healthcare benefits.
Also, according to Miller, a company-wide webinar or meeting must be held to ensure every employee understand what benefits are available to them. Companies need to ensure that all employees are aware of extra medical, extended family, and additional sick leave they are entitled to, including the new federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (or FFCRA) in the US.
Automate Mailroom Processes With Package Tracking Software
While organizing and tracking incoming/outgoing mail is an uphill task, especially amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the benefits of inbound package tracking software reach far beyond the mailroom. Package tracking software, like TekTrack, not only assists in automating and simplifying delivery processes, but it also provides businesses with a full chain-of-custody. If an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, TekTrack’s extensive search and reporting functionality provides managers with an audit trail of every person, location, and package an employee may have come in contact with, providing management with the much needed information to help stop the spread of the virus. Contact TekCore today to learn how to keep employees safer with package tracking software.